Migrant Taxi Ship Docks in Italy to Drop Off over 400 Migrants as Arrivals Continue

Migrants line up after disembarking on the southern Italian Pelagie Island of Lampedusa on

A vessel operated by the NGO Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF/Doctors Without Borders) with 410 migrants on board arrived at an Italian port Thursday afternoon after over 1,200 migrants arrived in a single day last weekend at Lampedusa.

The MSF ship Geo Barents had picked up 410 migrants from seven boats off the coast of Libya. After being rejected to dock in Malta earlier this week, the ship headed to Sicily to drop off the migrants, who the NGO says are “exhausted”.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs ReliefWeb site reported the Geo Barents migrant taxi ship had been cleared to make for the Italian port of Augusta, Sicily seven days after its first pickup. Global positioning data showed the ship arrived at the harbour on Thursday afternoon.

The mission is the first for the GeoBarents and is the first solo mission for MSF, which previously worked with the French NGO SOS Mediterranée and aided the Ocean Viking and Aquarius migrant taxis until splitting with the NGO in May of last year, Il Giornale reports.

According to the Italian newspaper, another NGO, Alarm Phone, has also reported that there are another 80 migrants waiting to be picked up in the search and rescue (SAR) zone off the coast of Malta as of Wednesday afternoon.

Alarm Phone later accused the Maltese armed forces of “a breach of law”, claiming that the Maltese authorities had refused to organise and coordinate rescue for the 80 migrants whose boat had reportedly stopped and was adrift.

Migrant arrivals continue in Italy, particularly on Lampedusa, located between Sicily and Tunisia, where 1,215 migrants arrived on Saturday.

Since the weekend, migrant arrivals have continued, with nearly 700 estimated to have landed on the island on Tuesday, largely from boats that originated from Tunisia.

The migrants themselves, however, are a mix of various nationalities, including Bangladeshis, Eritreans, Sudanese, Pakistanis, and Senegalese.

According to the EU-funded news website InfoMigrants, just one of the boats from Tuesday contained nearly 400 migrants. While on Monday, 442 people were reported to have arrived on the island.

The number of migrants has largely overwhelmed the reception facilities on the island, which are only built to accommodate 250 people. As of Tuesday afternoon, nearly 1,400 migrants were on Lampedusa.

The Wuhan coronavirus and its spread among illegal immigrants remains a concern on Lampedusa as well, with the island detecting its first case of the Delta/Indian variant of the virus on Wednesday.

Igor Gelarda, head of Matteo Salvini’s League in Sicily, commented on the positive Delta variant test results, saying: “The arrival of the Delta variant through immigrants in Lampedusa is simply scandalous.”

Last year, a doctor working onboard a migrant taxi NGO vessel dismissed the coronavirus risk from migrants, saying it was more important to rescue migrants than worry about the virus.

“Facing people who run away from torture, coronavirus takes second place. I think we all accepted the risk,” doctor Caterina Ciufegni said last April.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)breitbart.com


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